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Cultivate Your Willpower

One of the biggest obstacles that people face when they are attempting to stick to a healthy eating or exercise regimen is a lack of willpower or self-control. If there is any temptation in the area regarding food or any excuse that can be used to avoid a workout, those routes are the most traveled! Ultimately, it is a challenge to lose weight, get in shape, and stay that way.

So how can it be done? How can we say no to unhealthy choices and stop giving in to self-sabotage? One way is to learn how to distinguish between the temporal “reward” of a choice that is counter-intuitive to your goals versus a genuine reward that gives us true fulfillment and meaning. Once you recognize the “threat” in front of you or notice that you are about to blow off a bout of exercise, slow down, take a deep breath, and think clearly about your goals. I find it helpful to list my goals somewhere visible in my house and to carry a copy of those goals on my phone as well. When I am at a barbeque and about to get on line for food, I remind myself of these goals and concentrate on them before I make my choices. (Not coming to a barbeque with an empty stomach also helps! Eat a small, protein-dense meal before you go out.) When I wake up and am tempted to skip a gym session, I slow down and remind myself of those goals as well. (But it also helps to make sure you fully prepare for your workout the night before so you do not have a reason to skip your workout!) A few other helpful tips that help with self-discipline and willpower are:

1) Getting enough sleep - if you are tired, you are more likely to eat junk food and skip your workout.

2) Dealing with stress - meditation is great so before you roll your eyes, just think of it as slowing down and breathing deeply for a few minutes. Make it your own by choosing a time and place to sit and relax for a few minutes. The science behind this is pretty solid!

3) Go for a walk outside - the fractal patterns in trees are also backed by research and will help you to relax.

4) Spend less time on social media - seeing that picture of the gooey pizza slice or the sugar-laden donut on the food pages that you follow can often lead to a decrease in willpower since it’s hard to stop thinking about those pictures once you lay eyes on them!

Again, review that goal list daily and get yourself to think clearly about the choices you make. It is so good to feel a sense of accomplishment when you choose to do that workout even when you don’t feel like it or to say no to the junk food and alcohol that pretty much comes with any social situation. Making good choices consistently will reap great results and allow you to reach your goals much quicker. Cultivate your willpower and see how it changes things up in a positive way!

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